18. Hippo Ballerina at Pershing Square Plaza West
Finally returning to New York City is Hippo Ballerina, an iconic 15-f00t tall 2.5-ton bronze sculpture now located at Pershing Square Plaza West across from Grand Central Terminal. Over the years, the sculpture has been on display in Dante Park, the Flatiron South Public Plaza, and the Girl Scouts of America Building. Created by Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, Hippo Ballerina gains its inspiration from Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and the dancing hippos of Walt Disney’s Fantasia—standing as a representation of the ability to reinterpret subjects and themes from ancient myths into contemporary pop culture. Accompanying Hippo Ballerina are two additional sculptures, Hippo Ballerina, pirouette, and Rhino Harlequin, pirouette, all presented as part of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Temporary Art Program. The three sculptures will remain on display through December 2022.
“My animal sculptures are a celebration of life and nature and its many intriguing shapes and creatures,” said artist Bjørn Skaarup. “Each animal is thoroughly culturalized; representing human allegories or using man-made tools, all placed in peculiar and surreal encounters between nature and culture. The result is a group of bronze sculptures that combines the gracious and exclusive with the communicative, distorted, and humorous.”